The European Council is an institution of the European Union. It comprises the heads of state or government of the EU member states, along with the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council, currently Herman Van Rompuy. The High Representative for Foreign Affairs, currently Catherine Ashton, takes part in its meetings.
While the European Council has no formal legislative power, it is charged under the Lisbon Treaty with defining "the general political directions and priorities" of the Union. It is thus the Union's strategic (and crisis solving) body, acting as the collective presidency of the EU.